Own a Galaxy Note? Review it for a free Speck case

Posted Mar 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm in Threads > Assignments

With the launch of Threads, we’ve got a lot of ideas we want to test out. One of those is offering prizes or a specific bounty for content, sort of like an assignment challenge. To get things started, we’re looking for users that own a Samsung Galaxy Note. And we’ve got a free Speck case to the first three users to answer the challenge:

speck cases

To win a free case (Update: three reviews submitted). We’ve got a Note review unit ourselves and while the full thoughts are definitely coming, but we thought it might be fun to get things started in the threads.

To help things along, here are a few prompt questions you might consider answering:

  • How do you like the uniquely large screen size?
  • What do you think of the S Pen?
  • What app(s) do you find yourself using the most?
  • Do you like TouchWhiz or would you prefer something else?
  • How does the camera perform?
  • Any complete surprises with this device not listed here?

You can submit your review here as a comment, or better yet, start your own thread and play a little weekend blogger. The first three users to write a decent review of the device will score a free Speck case (provided by @SpeckProducts).

If you’ve got any questions, let me know in the comments!

  • Adryan maldonado

    Gonna work on it tonight and tomorrow clark. Although I don’t know if I’ll be able to compete with Nicole cozma from cnet.

  • Adryan maldonado

    I have a question. So do you want.people to try and do a full on review or just to the best of our ability?

    • http://clarklab.net Clark Wimberly

      Eh whatever. Threads are for experimenting and learning. Just write however you are most comfortable.

  • bryanizmir

    I am a newly christened Galaxy Note user, brought my baby home two days ago… It is my second Samsung phone in less than a month. I started with a GSII but decided to shell out the extra 2 Benjamins after playing around with my wife’s Note. We both are with AT&T and started our adventure with smartphones on the 3GS two years ago. Needless to say, we are both incredibly impressed with this phone. My wife is not very much of a technophile, very much in love with the iOS/iTunes ecosystem, so I was a little worried when she chose the note. A month later she is adapting very well to the Android system, as well with Play. Personally, I do not think this switch would have been possible if it wasn’t for the Note. From the display to the ease of use to the size and crispness of the screen, it is just a great phone. I mention this because she is a basic user in love with all things Apple. Now she cannot live without her Note.

    Ok, here’s some points about the Note:
    –Phenominal Screen: The size of the screen is perfect for browsing the web, playing videos and game play. Its crisp colors and definition just make you want to stare at the thing all day. For me, the large screen makes it super easy to type. I had problems typing on the 3GS and Galaxy SII. My big sausage fingers just couldn’t find the right keys. With the note, I do not have that problem.

    –S Pen: At first, I didn’t think much of the pen. I considered it pretty useless, just wanted the phone for the screen. But, after using the phone for a few days, I find myself more and more dependent on the pen. It makes surfing the web and using apps a breeze. For example, my bank does not have a mobile page. So there are a bunch of little buttons all over the place that I would have to zoom into with the other phones to select. With the S pen, you have finer control of what you are selecting on the screen, so it saves me time by not having to zoom in. Also the on screen gestures make it so you dont have to put the pen down to use the menu, home or back keys on the bottom of the phone. I still find myself trying to use the pen with the home row keys, but that is part of the learning curve I guess. I haven’t played much with the S Memo app, but writing on it is very nice. If you are a Draw Something fan, the pen makes it 10,000x easier to play the game :)

    –Apps: The apps I use the most with the note are not unique to the note, so it is not relevant to the review. However, my current top 5 are BeyondPod, Tip-off, Temple Run, Tweetcaster and Netflix

    –TouchWiz: I have nothing to compare it to, so it seems fine to me!

    –Camera Performance: Takes excellent pictures with the 8mp camera in well lighted areas. Noticed the color is a little yellow in low light, even with the flash. The 2mp is fine, but a little grainy in low light conditions.

    –Battery… Battery drains pretty fast compared to our old iPhones, which we expected due to the huge screen. The good thing is you can just buy an extra battery and keep that with you if you aren’t next to a plug for a long period of time. Also, it takes a long time to charge the battery. You cant plug it in for 10 minutes and expect to get an extra hour out of the battery like we used to do with our iphones.

    Some general cons… Due to its size, even I cannot use the phone with one hand. I need one hand to hold or stabilize, one to touch/use the s pen. Battery life is also poor. If you plan on watching videos, playing games or just doing anything with it for long periods of time, you better have your charger or an extra battery in tow.

    All in all, I love the phone and feel I will be happy and be able to grow with the phone until my upgrade time comes again :)

    • http://clarklab.net Clark Wimberly

      Nice! I’ll shoot you an email to claim your free case.

      • bryanizmir


    • LazPL

      There are two reasons why your battery life is poor – first, Android needs several charging cycles until it “learns” the actual life of the battery. Second, you need to optimize Android to use less battery. My Note lasts two days.

  • Debxter

    I recently switched to the Samsung Galaxy Note from the iPhone 4S and have not regretted it at all. I love everything Apple, but the Note with the bigger screen and S-pen has made it fun again to use my phone again. Being able to customize it the way I want with Android and with giant screen I don’t have to squint or pinch and zoom when I surf, read emails, tweet, and edit photos. I don’t know how I ever did that on a smaller screen. Speaking of size, yes, does look a little strange to hold the phone to your ear and talk, but I think it actually gives you a better grip when holding it and after a while it doesn’t seem strange at all. In fact, most people do a double take and want to know what kind f phone that it is! One other fun thing about this phone that I can’t do without now is the S-pen (stylus). I can draw (it’s super precise) or draw on photos I take. Also the ability to handwrite on memo’s and then transfer that to text is really exciting and does work most of the time if you have good handwriting. The creativity put into this phone reminds me of Apple in a way. I think they really hit it out of the ballpark with this one.

  • Jason Wagner

    I work in a mobile phone shop
    And play with many diffrent phones, as a solid through and through iPhone fan I found that I didn’t like the android system as much! But now all
    That has changed! After shelling out for the note I have to say its one of the best devices I have every owned, although it has a large screen it’s incredibly light, the screen is crystal clear and excellent for watching movies, the phone is very flowey and although not quite as quick to open certain things like the gs2 is more than enough for almost anybody, the hdd is plenty and the fact you can install a 32gb card in is fantastic. The pen is very accurate, a very useful tool, the build quality is great! The reception is better that te ip4s and the wifi always works better so far, battery life 3-4 films or about a day and a half. 5 star phone just not for people who like skinny jeans!!

  • Adryan maldonado

    OK clark my review is in the Threads. Hopefully its up to par for the case if not i hope everyone else enjoys my first review ever. This is not the best i can do but i certainly put some effort into it. Appreciate any feedback from others.

  • LazPL

    Hi Clark, can’t seem to start a thread for some reason, so my review goes right here. I have a photo as well that I’d like to add, which isn’t possible in the replies I guess!

    Review of Samsung Galaxy Note
    Having been a long-time user of tablet PC’s, I was thrilled by the anouncement of the Galaxy Note. The idea of being able to use natural writing on my phone using a true Wacom panel and stylus sounded perfect me. I take a lot of notes on my HP tablet laptop, and also use it to sketch out ideas using a stylus.
    There was the issue with the size. I was never a fan of big phones. But after reading many reviews and comments from people around the net, I took the plunge.

    The Note is big. But after a couple of days I just noticed how small other phones seemed. It works a bit like a small tablet. The screen is amazing. With a resolution of 1280 by 800 it matches my laptop.

    I travel a lot, and I wanted my smartphone to be able to take the laptop’s place on occasion.
    To my surprise, the Note actually accomplishes that feat. I use a bluetooth keyboard. With the big screen, you can actually get some serious work done on the Note, like writing long word documents or powerpoint presentations. I am writing this review on the Note right now.

    If you look at the Note from that perspective, it’s not too big – in fact, it’s really portable. It fits into a front trouser pocket, although I’d think twice before putting it down your back pocket – I don’t think it would survive close encounters with a chair. It’s suprisingly light and slim for such a big device. Yes, in the beginning you feel like an idiot holding it to your ear, but that passes quickly. And honestly – how much of your smartphone time do you spend TALKING? Not nearly as much as you spend using it for other things.

    Throw in the ability to connect the Note to a big screen or projector using HDMI (optional dongle), and the USB host dongle (also optional) that lets you connect mice and keyboards of the wired kind, and you don’t have the world’s biggest phone – You have the world’s smallest laptop!

    I’ve had the device for a couple of months. Even if I primarily wanted the Note for business, I have to say it’s the best phone I’ve had, period. Games and videos just look amazing, and the speed makes it a nice experience.

    The S-pen is very useful, at least for me. It’s also kind of cool that I can use the stylus from my tablet PC laptop on the Note, and vice versa. If you are a tablet PC user, don’t even think of getting anything else. If you like doodling and sketching you’re in for a treat as well. Proper, pressure-sensitive editing and drawing in your hand. Samsung hasn’t yet released Ice Cream Sandwich for the Note, but they’re working on it, and with the update they have announced several updates to the S-pen-related apps.

    The only drawback is the somewhat low volume when you’re using the speakerphone. It’s sometimes hard to hear what the other person is saying, if there’s noise around.

    Fave apps
    I’ve tried almost all launchers out there, but SPB Shell 3D is it for the note. Other launches scale icons up so that you don’t really notice the high resolution, but Shell 3D provides a “tablet mode” that allows you to fit an amazing number of things in each panel.

    S Memo
    The built-in note-taking app is pressure sensitive and lets you take quick notes from anywhere by double-tapping the screen with the S-pen.

    Quickoffice Pro
    The Note is great for editing documents. Quickoffice is my favorite office suite.

    I read a lot on the Note. Coolreader can handle most formats you throw at it, and there’s an excellent night mode that lets you read without waking your better half with a bright screen.

    Juice Defender
    A battery-saving app that allows you to turn off background 3G data – extends the already long battery life by somewhere around 40% in my case.


    The Note is snappy. No lags, even using power-hungry launchers like SPB Shell 3D.

    The battery life
    I’m a compulsive charger. Whenever I am in reach of power I plug my phones in. With the Note I don’t need to do that any more. It’s the first smartphone I’ve had that manages 2 days on a charge. This in itself is enough of a reason to get it!

    The screen
    It’s a Samsung Amoled screen, which means it’s really brilliant and colorful. Excellently readable in sunlight. Fantastic for videos.

    The S-pen / Wacom system
    Being able to take quick notes on the go is a must. Using a virtual keyboard is too slow. Slide out the S-pen, hold the button down and tap the screen twice (in any application) and you get a little post-it note on screen to write on.

    Real nice, both for photos and video.


    Handsfree volume
    Low speaker sound for calls

    S-pen design
    The S-pen is sometimes a little hard to slide out. The smallish button is recessed, you have to spend some time finding it before you can press it reliably (you don’t have to press it to draw/write though)

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      You can’t start a thread because you only have 2 points. New threads cost 20 points.

      • LazPL

        Alright then… Let me know where to shoot the image for my review then :)

        • http://clarklab.net Clark Wimberly

          This still counts! I’ll send you an email soon.

      • LazPL

        And then maybe you can post it to a thread if you want. :)

  • fingers26

    How do you like the uniquely large screen size?
    It’s the most amazing screen I ever had in a celular, yesterday I watch a movie in my Galaxy Note .
    What do you think of the S Pen?
    It’s good to have when you are in a design job its good you have control of all your phone
    What app(s) do you find yourself using the most?
    I like the tool box
    Do you like TouchWhiz or would you prefer something else?
    I love it.
    How does the camera perform?
    Excelent pics 8 mp rear camera and HD video the best
    Any complete surprises with this device not listed here?
    I’m still learning a lot even I have with my phone more than 2 months..

    Simple the great…!!!

  • MarlowXIm

    Hope it’s not too late I kept editing until I deemed it was worthy to post. I tried to be extensive as possible including contacting Samsung on some of the Galaxy Note’s problems.

    I currently have the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE (SGH-I717R) for alittle over a month and I can give a pretty unbiased review of all its features including software and some technical problems. I have been using mine pretty much as a daily driver and will be focusing on many topics below:

    Size and Comfort and Portability

    The Note is 5.3 Inches, but surprisingly is really comfortable to hold in one hand. The rounded accents around the chrome bezel make it very easy to grip and hold, especially for its size. The weight is fairly balanced it is not to light like the S2 (116g), which felt “flimsy” and feels just a little heavier than the Galaxy Nexus (135g). It’s actually weight is (178g) but you won’t be experiencing any hand fatigue holding the device for long periods of time. Summing it up it is thin and light, does not have that bulky feel. The build quality is pretty good I’d say on par with the Galaxy Nexus, although the battery door cover scratches too easily. So make sure you do not put the note in a pocket you have keys in. It fits pretty easily in front jean pockets, as well as the inner pocket of your blazer, when you’re on the go.


    The screen is absolutely gorgeous; it’s one of the big selling points of this device. The resolution is 1280×800 which is on par with many Android Tablets but in 5.3 inch form factor. Thus images viewed are crisp and text sharp when viewed. The advantage of this resolution is web surfing, you have a full desktop viewing experience in the palm of your hand. Viewing or watch movies is absolute joy as well, Samsung has included a lot of hardware decoding codes, so it’s easy to just drag and drop media and it will play smoothly. I’ve tested this up to 720p high profile mpeg4 content, no stuttering of any kind during playback.
    Samsung has done a pretty good job in color calibration compared to its other Galaxy products. Colors are not oversaturated like the S2 so when viewing photos, images are closer to a real reproduction of the image. Color reproduction is pretty well done especially white. It is calibrated pretty well, unlike the Galaxy Nexus line which has a hue of yellow rather than white. Although depending on your display the calibration does introduce abit of a problem with black reproduction. It has been termed by the Galaxy Note as “black crush” simply the gamma levels that Samsung has calibrated the display are to high creating splotches of grey when viewing content that is primarily black. This problem is a biproduct of amoled screens and their variability, I did reach out to Samsung Canada and they said a fix was in the pipeline in a ROM reversion in the future.

    Despite the flaws in gamma calibration the display is simply gorgeous and you really need to see it to believe. Simply it’s sharp and beautiful.


    The 8MP camera with the Note is pretty much on par with the S2, and does well on taking pictures in low brightness compared to my Xperia Arc which also has 8MP Exnor Camera. Other than that little has changed from the customizations from the S2, other then being able to share to S Memo application, which means you can annotate a photo on the fly.


    The GPS is accurate and cannot really complain often I have good locks within 8 seconds or less.

    Software and S-pen

    The Note is still running on Gingerbread 2.3, with Samsung’s Touchwiz customization framework. So if you’ve used any of their passed devices you’ll feel right at home. They did make a few changes, I noticed you can create folders, and added a few more widgets related to S-Memo which is their drawing application. You can directly save your memos as a widget for quick and easy access. What I really liked is they really did a good job on their calendar application “S planner.” If you’ve used a physical daytime planner, it is modeled after that and it’s intuitively organized.

    Performance wise

    The 1.5 GHZ dual-core Snapdragon holds its own even with Touchwiz running on top. I don’t perceive any stuttering, although performance is more dependent on whether your carrier adds extra bloat and services. (I’m looking at you AT&T)

    S-Pen Customization

    The Note is known for including a pen or stylus, based on Wacom technology. So you can write and draw to your heart’s content. The stylus itself is large enough and easy to handle for fine control and even includes a button for gesture activated swipes. The stylus when not being used in any of the S-pen enabled apps, acts like a cursor so you can navigate menus click on things. It just works natively within Android.

    The S-Pen Software

    Primarily the applications that take advantage of the S-pen is the application is called “S-Memo” Basically it is a glorified drawing application, which is pressure sensitive depending on which tool you use to draw with the S-pen. There is a quick note application built in as well “S-Memo lite.” It can be invoked by holding the button on the s-pen and double tapping the screen. There is also a gesture for taking an onscreen screen shot, which involves holding the S-pen button while on the screen, this screenshot can then be directly annotated with the s-pen after.

    S-Pen Problems

    Like all Wacom digitizers, the S-pen needs to have calibration. Currently when you doodle or write something with the S-pen the location of where it writes is abit offset. Samsung has acknowledged this and says it is working on a fix. Although I hope the user will have a calibration application rather than they change the offset.
    There are sensitivity problems, such as often even though you are not touching the screen with the nib (tip of the S-pen), it will write anyway. Not sure if software fix in the works currently, you can get around it by wrapping tinfoil near the button area to reduce sensitivity. Knuckle and palm rejection is another alittle issue you will in advertently make marks in the memo application which you did not intend too.

    Call Quality

    Call quality is excellent although you do look alittle foolish putting a huge slab to your face when answering calls.

    Battery Life

    The Galaxy Note has a huge 2500mah, which gets me through the day. If you use the phone constantly like “new phone syndrome” it will last you approximately 5 hours. However after you get accustomed to it, like killing applications in the background, that prevent it from sleeping and lowering brightness levels you’ll be able to get little over a day.


    The Galaxy Note is a great device to have with its huge screen and the S-pen make it worthwhile to own and use. After using one it will be hard to going back to a smaller phone. It’s not perfect with a few software quirks, but it will only get better with the promise of ICS and the Premium Suite promised by Samsung, which adds even more functionality with the S-Pen.

    • MarlowXIm

      Just noticed I logged into as Guest.. Butterfingers.

      • http://clarklab.net Clark Wimberly

        Well, you were the 4th submission and I’ve only got three cases, but if someone drops out I’ll definitely give you one. Or if you’d like a t-shirt I could probably make that happen.

  • MarlowXIm

    Hey Clark, Oh alittle to late then. It’s alright I did really want to get a case. Anyways I hope you enjoyed the review. Also there’s a new leak for the I717 an ICS build from AT&T.


    I’ll be updating my review if they fixed any of the technical issues in Gingerbread, I mentioned.

  • Krista

    There is not a single thing i dislike about this phone. I have the samsung galaxy note sgh 1717r. I really enjoy the bright 5.3 inch screen. Im a 23 y.o female and i find it comfortable and easy to handle even using it in my one hand. The 8mp back camera with flash is amazing and takes great HD pictures. 2mp camera on the front works great for self portraits and video calls. Even a mirror. Jack the quality of the shot and you can hardly tell its only 2mp. The voice recorder is amazing!!!! I play guitar and write my own stuff. I could not believe the high quality. I even recorded me and my friend singing in his car music full blast…. No cracking…awesome! I enjoy the s.pen. Its a neat feature. The phone is fully operational without it and it makes playing my favorite apps easier. I play a lot of ‘draw something’ and temple run. They are great hd games that ofcourse with android. .. These ones are free. I can carry my resumes and even my whole career portpholio in an easily accessible factory installed location. I can view and share easily. Runs with the common and reliable google account. The touch wiz is unique and again… Isnt the only way to do its ment features. You can still pinch to zoom and such. The 4G (no lte yet in my city) is fast and surprisingly much quicker from 3G. I find myself charging it a lot…. But i also do use it a lot. After initial charge and some break in use it doesnt take long to charge. Its powerful and i love that i pay ten bucks extra a month for unlimited data and can make my own security WEP..ect password enabled wireless connection that EIGHT devices can connect to. No extra contract or anything but my service providers/plan and i have fully accessible fast secure internet at home. Https! Sync all accounts fb myspace hotmail ect into one simple factory installed app… If i want to. The memo option is fun and the fun options are great. Ive had this phone for a month and have utilized and played with every factory setting. I still learn something new everyday! Best phone ive ever had!

  • Jessica Marie Banag

    How do you like the uniquely large screen size?
    –For me as a lady, it was good. coz’ I do hate small screen phones.. and as an IT student major in animation, it would be a great help for me on the animation thingy on my phone..

    What do you think of the S Pen?
    –S Pen works reallu good for me in help me draw my ideas on my animations and drawings. and help me write any lecture in school.

    What app(s) do you find yourself using the most?
    –Animation touch i can use it for my animation thingy. and some sort of the game thingy, id really love the temple run on my note :)

    Do you like TouchWhiz or would you prefer something else?
    –i like touchwiz, works good for me.

    How does the camera perform?
    - i love using the camera, clear photos. it seems i dont bring my digital camera since i have my galaxy note.. the panorama works good for me..

    Any complete surprises with this device not listed here?
    – the hand gestures, especially the screenshot thing. it was very helpful for me, easy copy and paste.

  • Lenie Doucet

    I got the Galaxy Note about three weeks ago, and I really love it. I have owned 3 Iphones prior to switching to Android. It was difficult to make the change, but i have not been disappointed yet. The larger screen is great, the Spen has a large learning curve, but I am confudent that I can conquer! The Spen was the selling point for me. I do miss the large selection of apps from Apple, but I am confident that good things are coming for Android users. In fact, there are some things to choose from on the startup of the phone that surprised me. The camera works fine for my purposes. Touchwiz is great. I am a convert, thank you Samsung. Keep up the good race!